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The Missing Mass Market Paperback – September 25, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In her second novel, Langan delivers a powerhouse creepfest that recalls, in the best way possible, the early work of Stephen King. Corpus Christi, Maine, was once a town of affluence, but since the mysterious paper mill fire in the neighboring town of Bedford (depicted in last year's well-received debut, The Keeper) released dense sulfuric clouds that killed the surrounding forest, Corpus Christi has been in steady decline. When fourth-grade teacher Lois Larkin takes her class on a field trip to the now-abandoned Bedford, they're exposed to a deadly virus that transforms the infected into ravenous, flesh-eating monsters. Rather than stick to zombie lit convention (mindless undead, endless chases), Langan invests her plague with a sinister intelligence of unknown origin, maintaining a skin-crawling tension as the vivid cast of characters succumb to murderous insanity, hunting down and tearing apart animals, neighbors and loved ones. Langan has the control of a pro, parsing just enough horrific details to allow the truly gruesome scenes to play out unbound in the imagination; this solid sophomore effort proves that The Keeper's disturbing ability to burrow into readers' heads and stay there was no fluke. (Oct.)
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“Langan has the control of a pro….” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“A genuine creepfest that recalls, in the best way possible, the early work of Stephen King” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Langan has crafted a grisly horror story that will keep you out of the woods for years to come.” (BookPage)
“Langan has a sharp eye for the small vivid details of American life, and her characters are utterly believable.” (London Times on The Keeper)
“...innovative, sharp, and absolutely chilling...” (Brian Keene, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Ghoul and Dead Sea)
“THE MISSING is reminiscent of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot with wicked drops of Koontz, Barker, and Straub.” (J.C. Patterson)
“[THE MISSING is] as engrossing as a dagger poised at one’s throat.” (J.C. Patterson)
“An astonishing first novel...chilling, haunting, and so smartly written that the pages fly by like the wind.” (Ray Garton, author of THE LOVELIEST DEAD)
“THE KEEPER kept me up, late into the night...I’m hoping for a whole shelf of novels by Langan.” (Kelly Link, author of MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS)
“[A] brilliant debut, heralding the arrival of a major talent.” (Tim Lebbon, author of DUSK and BERSERK)
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Top customer reviews
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*Spoiler Warning if you keep reading this review* In "The Keeper," we have a sort of sense of the mysterious things that underlie our destruction of each other and the earth, and their embodiment in a kind of "witch" of sorts--a woman who is almost like a "sin eater" in that she harbors all kinds of horrors, such that when she dies those horrors spill over into the waking world that caused them. But at the end of that novel you have redemptive love and a sense of peace, even if many things had to be destroyed to get there. With "The Missing," it's as if the author tried to take all kinds of themes, like the fact that many different civilizations have just gone missing over the centuries, and combine that with a new life form that inhabits humans, yet rises out of the ashes of this incident that happened in the small town of Bedford from the first novel. It's a mish-mash that doesn't make any sense with what came before it. I wish she had simply written this book as a stand-alone and didn't link it to the last one.
All of this isn't to say it's "totally horrible," which is why I gave it 3 stars. It's definitely readable and enjoyable and a horror novel and a pretty good one at that, it just makes little sense to link this to the last novel she wrote in any way. Here there is no redemption, only payback.
As the evil spreads, turning ordinary citizens into ruthless killers, we see the rest of the townsfolk band together or pull apart as all of their seething resentments and unspoken emotions are forced to the surface because of the mounting crisis. By the time the book reaches its final conclusion with suggestions that the plague has begun to spread much father than this small community, no one in town is untouched by the carnage and rampant conflict around them.
This book is a fun read and has enough suspense to keep the reader interested; however, I don't think this book is as successful as THE KEEPER. The evil in the woods that is the source of the novel's conflict is never fully explored or explained enough to really have a sense of its origin or purpose. Also, the ease with which it is released and the speed with which it engulfs not only this town but also, presumably, the world is a bit unbelievable - what has kept it in containment so long if it is so easily released? Still, fans of Langan or of any good novel about the deterioration of "civilized" society will not go away disappointed.
I found the characters in The Missing, if not always likable, at least fascinating. There was a lot at play here... the spread of a virus that changes people into cannibalistic quadrupeds, teenage angst, lives filled with regret and relationships coming untangled... all within the context of an affluent, genteel community with more decay beneath the surface than a cemetery.
I was sick over the weekend, so finished it fairly quickly, but it moved along at a nice pace and I never got bored. I will admit to being unsatisfied with the ending, which seemed hurried, as if the author got tired of writing and decided to just wrap it up and call it a day. Other than that, I enjoyed the tale.
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That being said, I very much enjoyed The Missing.Read more